Just … NO.

In general, I run this blog the way I try to run my life: Focus on solutions rather than complaining about problems. But I think sometimes it’s OK to say a strong “No” to certain things. In fact, it may be necessary to express a little shock and outrage at the status quo to get things moving down the path to solutions. Here’s a list of some of my “No’s”:

  • Idling motor vehicle engines for minutes or hours at a time. Just stop it! Turn off that car or truck when you park. (In some countries, and maybe even in some parts of the USA, people even turn off their engines at a stoplight! So turning off one’s engine while parked is not too much to ask.) As long as anyone can afford to idle their engine while parked, the price of gasoline is not high enough.
  • Bottled water. Companies making money off of us by pumping water from the ground (sometimes basically for free), putting it in single-use plastic bottles, and selling it to us. Whenever someone asks me, “Would you like ‘a’ water?” — as in a plastic bottle of water — my answer has been and is going to be NO. I dream of a world where “water” is restored to its proper status as a non-countable noun. Storing water for emergencies is a good idea. Do it by filling reusable bottles with tapwater. For people who are fussy about the taste of tapwater, there are many great water filters on the market. For people worried about the chemicals in tapwater, why would you think some water bottled and sold to you in a plastic bottle is any better?
  • Leafblowers. Just NO. Use a broom, or relax your fussy standards of neatness. Why do we have to turn the whole great outdoors into our own personal living-room rug?
  • As per the photo — application of pesticides for vanity agriculture in public spaces. NO!! Especially next to a body of water, but really anywhere, as all ground drains to some body of water. Again, we need to stop treating the whole great outdoors as our personal living-room carpet. We create dead “green” spaces that produce nothing (except that deadly human-defined “neatness”), and crowd out wildlife. When I took this picture yesterday, I felt equal parts of hopeless and spitting-mad. This morning it occurred to me that the pesticide application might have an additional purpose: to keep people away. (This photo was taken next to our public library, and homeless people often sit under the trees.) A better solution: If you really don’t want people using a space, plant vegetation there. Shrubs, spiny plants even. Don’t make it look inviting to sit on. Poisoning our world just to keep someone from (God/dess forbid) sitting down might just be the ultimate definition of shooting ourselves in the foot. (If keeping people away is in fact part of the motive.) We need to quit spraying poisons. Or we can keep right on, and eventually we will go extinct, and the rest of nature (including the ants or whatever other creatures were the original target of the pesticide application) will carry on quite nicely without us.

What would you add to this list? What’s on your list of eco “No’s”?